Coffee Culture in Miami

cubaWe were in Miami for a friend’s wedding and we had a fabulous time taking in the local cuisine. One thing L especially loved was the coffee culture in Miami, where delicious espresso was found on every corner. Our Miami-native friend Fredo assured us that Miami’s coffee culture was the greatest in the US, so we were pretty excited to get drinking. Fredo was definitely right, people in Miami are truly passionate about coffee, and we got a ton of suggestions for where to get the best coffee from our Miami-local friends. However, no matter where you go, there are a few major types of Cuban coffee that you will commonly find offered:

Cortadito at Panther Coffee in Wynwood

Cortadito at Panther Coffee in the Wynwood Art District

Cafecito / Cafe Cubano – very similar to the Brazilian cafezinho, a strong shot of espresso, with a healthy amount of sugar. The drink is not sweetened after, but rather the sugar is added during the brewing process. This drink is ubiquitous, and will run you less than a dollar. We warn, though, you’d better like your coffee strong.

Cortadito – My favorite, a cafecito with some milk added. This drink is often offered to “beginners” who may think a Cafecito is too strong, but I like it anyway!

Cafe con Leche – Typically for breakfast, a shot of Cafecito with a generous amount of steamed milk

Colada – A quadruple shot of espresso with four (usually Styrofoam) shot glasses. Under no circumstances are you supposed to drink all four shots alone, but rather you are supposed to share with friends. Usually this ends up being a pretty good deal.

Another unique aspect of coffee culture in Miami is the fact that coffee counters abound, and are still the most popular way to enjoy a cup. This reminded us of Brazil, where people would enjoy their cafezinhos standing up at small counters. While you can get your cafe to go, many places also have small areas to sit down. You can find Cuban coffee all over Miami, but many of the most famous places are in Little Havana all along Calle Ocho.

Interior of Versailles, at the western end of Little Havana / Calle Ocho

Interior of Versailles, at the western end of Little Havana / Calle Ocho

Versailles (3555 SW 8th St.) is one of the more famous Cuban restaurants in Miami, and a solid bet for both Cuban food and coffee. There is a full restaurant, which is a favorite among visitors and locals alike (we were actually there about 1 hour before Beyoncé and Jay Z), but there is also a smaller cafe with a coffee counter attached. Along with coffee, you can also get a wide variety of tarts and pastels and while away the time. We enjoyed a Guava pastry and an apple and citrus Torta de Santiago. The coffee and pastries together reminded us a little of our favorite pastelaria in Lisbon, also called Versailles, though the Miami setting was not as opulent. Another good choice in the area is El Pub, with a more minimalist counter (1548 SW 8th St.).

Cortadito, a pastel de guayaba, and a torta de Santiago at Versailles

Cortadito, a Pastel de Guayaba, and a Torta de Santiago at Versailles

Offering a more modern take on the cafecito is Panther Coffee (2390 NW 2nd Ave.). Panther is reminiscent of a NYC or Chicago coffee shop, with a wide menu of small-batch coffee varieties, and even a menu of alcoholic drinks. Located in the artsy Wynwood district, Panther draws a young crowd that looks like they would be more at home in Wicker Park. Even if you are hipster-averse, the coffee is great.

Panther Coffee in Wynwood

Panther Coffee in Wynwood

This list only is the tip of the iceberg, and you can find Cafe Cubano on every corner of Miami. We are excited to try out more spots when we return there in February. In the meantime, maybe we should pick up some Bustelo Coffee at the supermarket.

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